Following the death of a 19-year-old black man named Anthony "Tony" Robinson, hundreds of demonstrators marched along East Washington Avenue, from Madison Police Department headquarters to the scene of the shooting on the 1100 block of Williamson Street.
Carrying a large banner bearing the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” the crowd walked in front of the state Capitol building, where police officers held traffic as the group passed.
Protesters called for officials to release the name of the officer, now known to be MPD officer Matt Kenny. Kenny was involved in a shooting in 2007 but was exonerated of any wrongdoing.
Maria Hamilton, the mother of Dontre Hamilton, a boy who was killed by a Milwaukee police officer, spoke to the crowd in front of the house where Robinson was killed. She explained in an interview why she felt the need to speak out.
“It’s ridiculous that they’re killing these kids,” she said. “Enough is enough, and we’re going to continue to let our voices be heard.”
Hamilton said she hopes the demonstration will make everyone more aware those assembled are tired of peers dying.
“I am in distress for this family because I do have support, and I just want to encourage them and let them know it’s not over. It can’t bring our family members back, but their voices can be heard,” Hamilton said.
Young, Gifted and Black Coalition organizer M. Adams said the group was protesting to fight for black justice and liberation.
“This is an example of the state violence we have been talking about for a very long time,” Adams said. “The same structural racism that incarcerates black people at such a high, disproportionate rate is the same structural racism that can kill a black child with little regard.”
She said direct action is important because it raises community awareness and puts pressure on those with decision-making powers to effect change.
“We’re not going to sit around and wait anymore,” she said. “We’re going to force change.”
Protest leader says the fight is not over. @dailycardinal #TonyRobinson #Madison #WI #MadisonShooting pic.twitter.com/BeUAyZhssI— Dana Kampa (@DanaKampa) March 7, 2015
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said in a statement the city now begins what will be a difficult period.
“The Madison Police Department has a well-earned reputation as one of the finest departments in the Country,” Soglin said in the statement.
He also said he met with members of the family and community to hear their concerns.
“We all deserve to know the facts in this case,” Soglin said in the statement. “Tony Robinson’s family deserves that, our community deserves that, and the Madison Police deserve that. When the answers come, we will be open and transparent in communicating them.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Dane County also released a statement about the shooting, calling for transparency.
“Each new case of an African American person killed is a grim reminder of the urgent need for reform in the use of force against American citizens,” NAACP President Greg Jones wrote. “Although excessive use of force disproportionately affects African Americans and people living in poverty, it can affect people everywhere regardless of race, age or gender.”
"Are we free? No!" #TonyRobinson #protest #MadisonShooting #protest #Madison #JusticeForTonyRobinson @dailycardinal pic.twitter.com/pSG1T3CtYj— Dana Kampa (@DanaKampa) March 7, 2015
NAACP, founded in 1909, claims to be the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization.
The Urban League of Greater Madison said it is confident Madison police will fully cooperate with the independent investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and other campus officials offered support to Robinson’s family and friends as well as the community, in an email to students.
“As the leadership of the UW community, it’s our goal to provide a forum for students, faculty and staff to make their voices heard and to provide support and resources,” Blank wrote.
The university encouraged students in need of counseling or support to contact University Health Services.
“As we all deal with this difficult situation, we would ask everyone to be respectful of one another and how we might be all processing this tragic event,” she added. “We ask you to take care of one another as part of our UW community.”
The next protests are scheduled to be at the City-County building Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. and at the Department of Corrections Wednesday at 3 p.m.